Syrian army controls half of Homs biggest district

Syrian army controls half of Homs biggest district
Sat Jul 27, 2013 18:18:37

The Syrian army forces now control half of al-Khalidiya, the biggest district of Homs after ousting foreign-backed militants in fierce fighting in the central Syrian city, a watchdog says.

"Loyalist forces backed by fighters from Hezbollah have advanced over the last 24 hours and now control 50 percent of Khalidiya," the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claimed on Saturday.

Its chief Rami Abdel-Rahman told AFP on Saturday that overnight, "there was continuous heavy mortar and artillery fire" and that the militant district was still being pounded.

He said militants were putting up "fierce resistance" amid "very intense clashes."

Militant network the so-called Syrian Revolution General Commission also reported heavy fighting in the district that has been besieged by army forces for more than a year.

It and the Observatory both said the Old City district of Homs was being pummeled too.

The latest army offensive on besieged militant-held neighborhoods of Homs is now in its fourth week.

Government forces are seeking to secure another victory like the one in Qusayr near the border with Lebanon in June, when Hezbollah was key in retaking the strategic town.

The conflict in Syria started in March 2011, when pro-reform protests turned into a massive insurgency following the intervention of Western and regional states.

The unrest, which took in terrorist groups from across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, has transpired as one of the bloodiest conflicts in recent history.


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